This year, on April 18th and 19th, The Los Angeles Times sponsored their annual book festival – the ever popular, growing and intense fun Festival of Books on the USC campus in Downtown LA.
For two days, book sellers, readers, authors and all around crazies get together on the sprawling USC campus. There are panels that showcase specific authors such as this year’s Maria Bello and Joyce Carol Oats. And there are panels that speak about subjects focus on genres or topics such a “Young Adult Fiction: I’ll Be There For You” or “Crime Fiction: The Hands That Pull The Strings”.
Honestly, Festival of Books is something that every book lover in the Southern California area looks forward to every year. (And beyond. Last year I met a girl who drove in from Las Vegas to attend!)
This year I was able to go Saturday, April 18th and attend a few panels.
First, I made a friend!
Then we made out way over to Town & Gown where we saw
Young Adult Fiction: Connections and Consequences
Sarah Dessen, Robyn Schneider, Emery Lord, Meg Woltizer
Moderated by Amy Spalding
The panel was packed! They talked about balancing harsh, raw events in their characters’ lives with romance.
Sarah Dessen talked about how her books were mostly put in the teen romance section in major bookstores, but that she felt it wasn’t a true representation of the stories she writes. That most stories have more to it than just romance but also family dynamic, friendships, identity issues. When signing, I told her I agreed with her. If you haven’t read a Dessen novel yet, then you’re missing out. Her novels encompass so much more than teen romance.
Emery Lord talked about how important it is to have books about friendship. To portray different groups of friends that satisfy different areas of a character’s life, just like in real life. And how she loves that the YA audience is always so excited and screaming and happy to meet authors. They don’t hold anything back!
Robyn Schneider discussed how her book came from a private place within herself such as the fear of when she was in medical school and the anxiety that she felt towards her life playing out that way.
The panel was stolen by the charmingly clever and hilarious Meg Wolitzer, who I had not seen before. Her first YA book Belzhar was just released but Wolitzer is an Adult Fiction vet with many titles to her name. She talked about what makes us drawn to YA, her remembering her “firsts” – like the blouse she wore in 8th grade, and how that effected her. I met Meg when she signed my book and she is so sweet and genuine and real and I am now a huge fan of Meg Wolitzer. And I haven’t even read the book yet.
Overall, the panel was lively and quick. Time flew by and I was lucky to get my books signed by the lovely authors afterwards!
Here are Meg’s books that I got signed. Up close, Meg is so sweet and genuine and real and I am now a huge fan of Meg Wolitzer. And I haven’t even read the books yet.
My entire signed Sarah Dessen collection! If you haven’t read a Dessen novel yet, then you’re missing out. Her novels encompass so much more than teen romance.
The afternoon held a fabulous panel:
Young Adult Fiction: The Girls Are All Right
Ann Aguirre, Elizabeth Eulberg, Jenny Han, Amy Spalding
Moderated by Sonya Sones
This panel was held in Seeley G. Mudd across campus. I was really excited to see Ann Aguirre as I’m a huge fan of her Mortal Danger book and looking forward to reading Public Enemies when it comes out!
This panel was hilarious! Ann Aguirre’s dry humor is sharp and sarcastic. She spoke about her writing process and how her daughter is the inspiration for her main character in her new novel The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things. That is her daughter, who goes around school with post it notes to make other people feel better. And her daughter helped create the love interest. It was super sweet.
Jenny Han is always a pleasure to see. She spoke about writing sequels and about romance. She lives in NY and has a friend’s house she goes to sometimes to write, to give her fresh space and different surroundings. Everytime I see Jenny Han I think she’s just so cool.
Elizabeth Eulberg is a new author to me but after seeing her on the panel, I wanted to 1. be her friend and 2. buy her books. She’s outgoing and fun and definatley a girl you could be friends with. Her newest book is a sequel, so I bought the first book The Lonely Hearts Club and Take A Bow. She spoke about her own insecurities with writing and how she overcomes them.
Amy Spalding was on the panel this afternoon and I had already decided I loved her from the morning. She’s quirky and cute and reveals honest truths about herself in a funny way. She spoke about how awkward she was as a teen and how she wanted that to translate into her new book. She liked writing the awkward silences or a character always saying the wrong things because she identified with it. I’m with you Amy. I’m right there with you!
A fun panel and a real treat to finally meet Ann Aguirre.
When she was signing my books, she mentioned that she once signed a lady’s arm. I asked her to sign my arm. :)
Awesome signed books by authors I met and some I picked up while shopping!
Lunch time was late and the food truck area was packed. But it was a lot of fun and Thuy from Nite Lite got us boba! (Mine is sweet tea with no boba)
The rest of the afternoon held a few more shopping trips including meeting Ransom Riggs and him signing Hollow City for me! and meeting John Scalzi for the first time. I’m excited to read his Lock In book. Sounds terrifying. Ransom and John were both signing at Mysterious Galaxy booth on Saturday.
Ransom and I spoke about Hollow City, the ending of Miss Peregrine and the excitement over the new movie!
John and I chatted about his inspiration for Lock In and how he wanted to create a book that was so terrifying and yet, people wanted to read it anyway!
It was a fabulous day!
Thank you to Festival of Books for putting on such an amazing event, year after year.